Creative Writing, Week 2

Sorry! Sorry! This first week of classes has rather gotten away from me that I neglected to post up some resources for “Creative Writing, Week 2.” Two days late & a few bits short, here it be. (Though some of you might still post answers to the Proust Questionnaire from last week, yes?)

Creative Writing, Week 2      _

1. READ THIS >> “To Do” by Jennifer Egan; author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel A Visit From the Goon Squad. (“To Do” was published in The Guardian on 22 July 2011.) If you have time, you might read some of the other short stories from The. Guardian’s 2011 summer special.

2. TO WRITE >> “Exercise #1: A Life in 25 Items.” In the comments, record a life, an entire life (either yours, someone else’s, or a fictional life: you can tell us which it is (but you don’t have to)) in exactly 25 items (no more; no less), similar to how Egan deconstructs her narrative into an outline format. These do not have to be 25 complete sentences. If you have time, feel free to provide your peers with some feedback. Or just read them and marvel. A life; an entire life; so orderly and clean; and yet.

3. TO WRITE >> “Exercise #2: Six-Word Memoirs.” Last year, the creative writing students & I, with contributions from college staff & faculty, put together a zine of six-word memoirshere were the original guidelines. Try this on your own; perhaps even print out your memoir on business cards or write it “real-nice” on a notecard to hang up or give to someone special. If you need help, listen to this segment from NPR’s Talk of the Nation (3 February 2010).

4. CONTINUE >> Your writer’s notebook. Remember that you should be adding at least five new entries/items per week.

“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.” –E. B. White


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3 Responses to Creative Writing, Week 2

  1. Rich says:

    1. On a riding lawn mower: mommy and me against the world;
    2. Sister arrives; mommy returns from the hospital, stapled.
    3. Life in the country with the Fritzy cat;
    4. The Fritzy cat runs away.
    5. We move: to the island, where there is school and Mrs. T––, who is terrible;
    6. Stomach aches and an irrational fear of first grade, but mommy says, “Every day you go to school is like a day in the bank.”
    7. The dittos that we work on each day are purple: purple outlines of George Washington and Abe Lincoln.
    8. I am taken from class: Pap Pap has died. (I feel purple.)
    9. Middle school is a great trauma; the blond surfer teacher thinks I should join the theater program to avoid drowning; I join.
    10. Seated next to Caroline the first day of 8th Grade in homeroom: we become best friends almost immediately.
    11. High school is all so––what it is. “You seemed so inaccessible in high school,” someone will later say, “in your books and your writing;”
    12. And in my anxiety attacks, too. (But I was well-adjusted, I think…)
    13. There is awkward kissing in an abandoned lifeguard stand one night in the springtime. This first attempt at romance ends as adolescent love often does: in much drama. (It is good I rehearsed all of this during those middle school years in the theater, then.)
    14. I move to Virginia to attend college to become an anxiety doctor, but it all makes me too anxious: retreat to New Jersey.
    16. I move to New York;
    17. fall in love with a grad student at NYU;
    18. it does not end well.
    19. Freud: “But the free libido was not displaced on to another object; it was withdrawn into the ego.”
    20. I go to graduate school (the first time) for education, while living with my lesbian friend and her girlfriend in Queens, and spending nights at Manhattan bars with a girl from Kentucky.
    21. I move to the suburbs to teach at a high school where the kids of hedgefund managers come to read Faulkner.
    22. One of those kids says during her graduation speech, “Mr. Russell taught us to always be ourselves.”
    23. But I am trying, Amy––I am. It is difficult sometimes, you know.
    24. I am happiest the year in London.
    25. Stendhal: “Beauty is the promise of happiness.” Of more happiness. Of renewed happiness.

  2. Lauren says:

    1. My mom and I come home from the hospital. Dad bought a live Christmas tree. Mom discovers she is allergic.
    2. My sister comes home from the hospital. It’s Halloween. She is nothing like candy.
    3. Mom tells me that my sister is sick. Really sick. And will be forever.
    4. My neighbor refuses to play with me when at school.
    5. We moved to Galloway. Mom said it was for Dad to be closer to work. We actually moved farther away. I think it was because Galloway had better schools.
    6. I have no friends for two years
    7. I met Lauren. She was my maid of honor at my wedding.
    8. I’m borderline hypoglycemic. I have to carry trail mix with me at all times.
    9. I apply to one college. I get in.
    10. I finally break up with my abusive boyfriend. He calls me a c*nt on a blog.
    11. I have a torrid affair with a co-ed. We thought we hid it well.
    12. I don’t get into grad school. I take a job as a cashier and office assistant at a local college.
    13. I go blind for a while. That’s not a metaphor.
    14. I go numb for a while. Also, not a metaphor.
    15. I have MS
    16. I’m pregnant.
    17. I’m no longer pregnant. I am a bit anemic, though.
    18. My sister dies.
    19. Abusive boyfriend number two breaks up with me. On Facebook.
    20. I check into the psychiatric ward at the hospital. It’s called Pine Way. The door is armed.
    21. I lose my job. But, that’s okay. I was getting bored, anyway.
    22. This time, I get into graduate school.
    23. Maybe that master’s degree isn’t enough.
    24. I officially become a wife. He is not abusive. Which is good.
    25. I suddenly know where everything is.

  3. lotusb4sun says:

    All Exercises Available at:

    Another’s Life in 25 Items:

    1. Father dies when I am 9-y/o 2. Mom gets sober 3. Start abusing drugs and alcohol at twelve 4. Set tree house on fire 5. Almost die at mother’s hand 6. Keep swimming 7. Start diving & surviving 8. Get kicked out of college for one semester 9. Move to San Francisco 10. Become a professional high diver 11. Lots of loving in-between the sheets 12. Wished I was gay like all my friends 13. First move-in serious relationship with another addict 14. First gardening: growing marijuana 15. Go to grad school for clinical pscyhology 16. Get DUI & put on federal probation 17. Switch drug-of-choice to cocaine—to pass probation drug tests 18. Drug dealer crashes my car 19. Wake up and find I asked heroin addict & her mangy dog to move in, ask her to leave, begin detoxing from heroin, and finally ask for HELP 20. Can’t get clean—-become a crackhead 21. Get engaged & break up on unhoneymoon—- since she didn’t want to marry a recently disclosed crackhead 22. Move back East to get sober 23. Mother tricks herself by pretending she is helping me recover from cancer & she doesn’t try to kill me this time, while I actually truly get clean 24. Find & marry my wife 25. Garden again, but this time organic vegetables, & now I can work in the clinical psychology field again, while maintaining my recovery

    Personal Life in 25 Items:

    1. Cry & shriek through infancy 2. Become traumatized 3. Have reoccurring nightmares and stop sleeping 4. Tell teacher to shut up 5. Be sent to see school psychologist during recess 6. Sit next to boy in 4th grade who breaks all my pencils 7. Speculate he’s an addict in jail now 8. Go to beach on weekends with dad and three brothers 8. Play 1st chair clarinet 9. High school boyfriend falls in love with me and we date too long 10. Begin summer romance before college and continue long-distance relationship off & on for years 11. Meet another man & date on/off for too long ~12 years 12. Man cheats and I cheat back with long-distance man 13. Withdrawal from junior year in undergrad and move to Atlanta 14. Finish Bachelor’s degree and enter official adult work force for 8 years, while trying to keep my idealism, but let go of my save the world mentality 15. Have multiple affairs and various unhealthy relationships while drinking a few too many alcoholic beverages 16. Get master’s degree in social work with post-grad training as play family therapist 17. Date divorced man with two children who cheats and dumps me 18. Spend year celibate 19 Go on Shamanic Journey 20. Meet man I’ll marry 21. Finally sleep again! 22. Buy 1829 farm house on 2 acres and begin raising flock of chickens 23. Fall into severe depression for 3 years with 8 months in a suicidal state 24. Survived without going into a psychiatric unit 25. Accept, Be, Connect, Discover, Eat, Find, Go, Hope, Integrate, Join, Keep, Love, Move, Notice, Oppose, Play, Quit, Realize, Sympathize, Tickle, Undulate, Vocalize, Wonder, Xerox, Yell, and Zoom…

    6-word Memoir: Wonder Woman wanders above and beyond

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